Dream BIG, Dream #DigitalIndia

MODI-DIGITAL-INDIA-BIGIt was heartening to note that PM Narendra Modi along with Twitter Chief Executive Dick Costolo recently launched ‘Twitter Samvaad” which is an important step in seeing Indian twitterti exchanging notes with Government agencies on twitter. As part of the Prime Minister’s Digital India initiative, this tweet-powered service enables citizens to be the first to know about the government’s actions by receiving political content in real-time on their mobile devices anywhere in the country. This is indeed like a dream come true!


As I was in the process of making my mind on writing the blog post on “Digital India” hosted by indiblogger, the news gave me enough fodder for thought. Being a social media junkie, I always of dream of my brigade to expand. Surprisingly even now, at least 50% of the people I interact with are digitally challenged in some way or the other. They can’t be connected on social media platform. They are, where they were from ages…the need is to transform them! The need is to make every Indian citizen “Digitrate” (Digitally literate). My mind goes back to Late PM Shri Rajeev Gandhi who Computerized India on a massive scales in late 80s and accomplished success with that too. But India has come a long way from its baby steps in computerization to India of today. And I must admit that Intel may be credited for this mammoth computerization with their SMART and consumer friendly computers, which took world by storm. I would like to use this platform to hail the Intel’s commitment towards building Digital India through its ‘Digital Skills for India’ and ‘Innovate for India’ initiatives.


For long Intel has been fostering technology as the enabler for creating a digitized India. Individually Indians are a great success but as a COUNTRY, we need to do lot of catching up.

Now with Modiji initiating the #DigitalIndia project to connect India digitally with a planned allocation of Rs One lakh crore, it will ascertain that a new era ushers in where all citizens will have access to connect with Government Digitally. The plan is to establish a digital platform to digitally connect and deliver government programs and services to individuals across India, thereby harnessing the power of information technology. The project also plans to connect all villages through high speed internet by 2019. Indeed the plan is ambitious, to say the least!

So what dies ‘Digital India’ would actually translate into? E- Governance? What’s that? How Indian Citizens be stake-holders to this program? How it will function? What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats? What would be infrastructure needed?

We have to find the answers to these questions and many more…
So primarily E –Governance focuses on making the process of Governance, Service delivery digital, i.e. through the use of Information and Communication Technology thus adding up non-repudiation to the paradigm of Accountability. It means that whatever work you want to get done or service you want to avail, it would be carried out and backed by sound technological infrastructure making processes thus fast and efficient. This technology enabled process is not far from us to seek, but…

What does this entail? Here every individual’s personal record will be stored in a virtual central repository or Digital Locker, which can be accessed by government officials anywhere anytime, through established protocols. For example, an individual’s certificates from school or college, birth certificates, medical records etc are all stored in the individual’s folder and these can be accessed by any government official to confirm or verify the individual’s claims without the need for the individual to present the hard copy. The purpose is to free the individual from the need to physically present the hard copy for verification in any government office. This will save a lot of time for the individual and the government officials, as also reduce the opportunity for bribes being demanded. Of course this not an easy task and to achieve this, data-centres of massive capacity are needed. It is huge opportunity but it has its own threats too.


We as Indians are quite casual about our security measures, accidents are most common place in India and Insurance penetration being lowest in the world is ample proof of my statement. With this digitization program where Government will be custodian of every citizen’s personal data, the chances of theft and misuse would also be there. Implanting high security measure will be a major task in the way of E-Governance. What happens if the system doesn’t respond or crashes when data access is needed the most. Challenge is to ensure smooth functioning of all this and more.
Today India prides itself with “Software Wizardry” – providing software solutions to the world. But it is high time that we use this wizardry for our nation and countrymen. I know challenges are many but opportunities are huge. Who would like to give upon this opportunity? I would like to see India digitized sooner than later, where we too can pride ourselves on this parameter. If Intel could empower us, why can’t we empower our own countrymen?

#DigitalIndia should be every “Digitrate” person’s dream, then only we will able to give shape to Modiji’s dream project.
The clock is ticking for the #DigitalIndia program and opportunity is there to develop the digital backbone of the country.

This post is part of Indiblogger contest for Intel #DigitalIndia.

Abode of unparalleled faith, Jwalaji Temple in Himachal Pradesh

What could have been better than starting your Monday Morning with Seher Program with Bhajan Samraat Anoop Jalota on 92.7 BIG FM? I just do this every day from last many years; probably I am addicted to it. I am more particular about it during this time of the year when we Hindus celebrate Navratri where we pray Maa Durga for our health, prosperity and happiness. Why? This is when BIG FM shares stories associated with Maa Durga and how she is worshipped in different avatars all over the country.

Today Jalotaji shared the story of Jwala Devi temple in Kangra which fascinated me no end. It made my childhood memories of the bhente vividly sung soulfully by Shri Narendra Chanchal. So the story goes like this: The flame which burns round the clock, across all weathers from hundreds of years, made Mughal Emperor Akbar curious and he went ahead to dig the reality of the flame. He tried to extinguish the flames by covering them with an iron disk and even channelizing water to them. But the flames blasted all these efforts. Akbar then presented a golden parasol (Chattra) at the shrine. However, his cynicism at the power of Devi caused the gold to debase into another metal. His belief in the deity was all the more strengthened after this incident. Thousands of pilgrims visit the shrine round the year to satisfy their spiritual urge. Jawalamukhi has since times immemorial turned out to be a great pilgrimage centre.

Jawala Ji has a unique characteristic of perpetual lights emanating from the rock at temple site being considered the manifestation of goddess. Jawala Ji as a center of faith is unparalleled and unique. There is no deity or idol that is worshiped, nor there a magnificent temple building to be admired. It has the series of jets of inflammable natural lighting since times immemorial believed to be the symbol of Goddess. Aartis are essential rituals in all the temples in the country. However, the Shayan Aarti performed at Jawala Ji before bed time is unique. The bed of Goddess is decked up with rich dresses and ornaments during Aarti.

Jwalaji (flame) or Jwala Mukhi (flame mouth) is probably the most ancient temple besides Vaishno Devi. It is mentioned in the Mahabharata and other scriptures. There is a natural cave where eternal flames continue to burn. Some say there are seven or nine flames for the seven divine sisters or the nine Durgas. It is here that Sati’s tongue fell which can now be seen in the form of the flame.
How to reach Jwalaji temple?

It is located only about an hour distance from the famous tourist resort of Dharamshala in Kangra Valley on Dharamshala-Shimla Road. Because of various historical factors associated with the temple, it has become a source of attraction to students and scholars. Besides, general tourists visiting Dharamshala do also not miss to see this place. As such it has acquired a vast dimension, as both pilgrims and general tourists visit the shrine.

After reaching the Jwalaji area/ bus stand, there is one main path to this temple, though other small distributaries can also be found from down the road. You have a main security check at the beginning of the temple compound. The main staircase is around 20 ft wide with Prasad Shops on both sides leading you to the main gate of the temple compound.

Route to Maa Jwala ji Dham is 32 Kilometers from Maa Chintpurni Devi hence the route from Delhi to Maa Jwalaji is very much the same to Maa Chintpurni Ji. On the way from Delhi to Jwala ji, the famous temples that you will find on the way are, Maa Mansa Devi in Chandigarh, Shri Anandpur Sahib, Maa Naina Devi Dham, Maa Chintpurni Devi.

After Bharwain you take right towards Dera Gopipur to Maa Jwala ji, world famous place. Mata Bajreshwari Devi is just 35 kms. If you choose to come from Jammu, Pathankot or other upper India regions, it is easier to reach the main Kangra city and then move to Jwalaji. The closest train station to Mata Jwala Devi is Ranital which is 18 km away. However from Delhi, it is better to take a train till Amb Andaura, Una and then travel by road.

If you are visiting Maa Jwalaji after Maa Chintpurni Devi, it is instructed by the pandits that you do not carry the Halwa prasad from Maa Chintpurni Devi to Maa Jwala Devi.

There is more to it, my daughter Tanyaa is planning a trip to Jwala Devi temple in May, and she is very excited about it. This made me dig further about this religious abode in north Indian state – Himachal Pradesh in Kangra for my readers who too should include this in their itinery.

More update on this once Tanyaa returns from her pilgrimage!

Jai Maata di bhakton!

Solar Eclipse: Many hues of Eclipsed SUN

The eclipse began at about 8a.m. and peaked at 9.30 a.m. After that the sun fully returned to the sky by about 11 a.m. This was seen in UK and surrounding areas.  The weather was also quite cold over the morning, meaning that it’s worth wrapping up warm before people headed out to the eclipse. In Scotland, the temperature fell around 6 to 8 degrees-centigrade, getting colder towards the South East of England.

See it to believe it in pictures, amazing sight!!!

Visit Gujarat in glamorous style!!!

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The 5D/6N Tour starts from Ahmedabad – moves on to Dwarka, followed by Porbander, Somnath, Diu, Gir and back to Ahmedbad.

There are some really attractive family packages which you may consider. I am presenting it for the benefit of my readers.

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Disclaimer: This is not a paid information.


When She Smiled by Ritoban Chakrabarty: A Review

When She Smiled, First
His world changed…
…When She Smiled, Last
His world changed forever!

The book ‘When She Smiled’ by Ritoban Chakrabarty can be best summarized in the couplets above and everything else falls in between. The story of a young teenager Mrityunjoy Roy is like a breeze of cool air amidst so much stress surrounding our day-to-day lives. It transcends us into the by-gone era when ‘Romance was in the air’ which has become ‘quite in your face’ today. We relived those moments when we were teenagers and had gone through such emotional and physical turmoil like Roy. Strict and rigid parents were the norm, for them academics was everything, entertainment was nothing. Roy’s parent’s portrayal is quite believable, in that sense.
My last read by Chetan Bhagat’s Half –Girl friend is in quite contrast to this one and I could not resist drawing parallels between these two. When She Smiled is touching, tender, melodramatic and quintessential love story of two teenagers, where boy suffers no end and girl takes it cool…is in sharp contrast to sex-laden adventures of Half Girl friend’s Madhav and Riya.

Till now, I have been living in the belief that boys can never be romantic, forget love – lorn, they just take girls for a ride, but reading this book changed my perception completely with Roy. Beautifully narrated from a young teenager’s perspective, Mrityunjoy goes through so much owing to his love life as he is an intense lover, whereas Akansha is easy going in love, life. Happens, when you fall in love with a person who doesn’t share your personality traits. In his all of 15 years, he experiences it all…love, life, tragedy, comedy, betrayal…what not. This makes me curious to know more about him, the person Mrityunjoy has evolved today.

The characters surrounding Mrityunjoy’s life like his siblings Sid, Ashima and friends like Raj, Aman, Simran and teachers like Karan Sir and Sudhir Sir are drawn from day-to-day lives. Being a young author, credit must be given to him for so convincingly sketching era of 70s in Simla. Here Simla is a character in itself providing the most beautiful, scenic, serene back-drop for romance to bloom. Simla is indeed walker’s paradise.

When Mrityunjoy falls rather tries to fall in love with Akansha, the confusion, the mental turmoil, the dilemma, the torture he undergoes makes us fall in love all over again. Akansha’s character of a beautiful but dumb-belle could have been better, it is difficult to relate with such character that is quite insensitive to love. All relationships in the book are intricately interwoven. The description of DAV school took me to my school days in Bhopal where morning assembly, library, periods, annual days, fun-fairs, lunch time were our lives. We did not know life existed beyond that.

Author could have avoided long narratives, detailing of Akansha’s beauty, stereotypical characters but never mind all this! It is a commendable effort on the part of young and first time author.
Book is a slow starter, but really caught me mid-way and I just could not leave in between. I wanted to know about what is the big deal about Akansha’s smile?

Go grab your copy today and indulge yourself in true, sensitive and mesmerizing teenage romance.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

India’s Travel mobility score rises from 32 (2008) to 50 (2014)

In the fight for global travelers tourists from India are getting noticed, with more countries making special efforts to ease Visa formalities for its citizens. The Visa operations Report 2014 by the United Nations World Tourism Organization says India has improved on its mobility score…the extent to which tourists can travel around the world without visa hassles.

When comparing data between 2014 and 2008 for the promising outbound markets of Brazil, Russian Federation, China, India and South Africa (BRICS), it becomes clear that the destinations are making special efforts to facilitate visa formalities for tourists originating from these prospering economies.  India’s mobility score rose to 50 in 2014, marginally higher than that of China at 48 where outbound travel is growing by leaps and bounds. However Indians still has a long way to go become most mobile travelers. That privilege is for citizens of Finland, the US, Sweden and Germany, which are least impacted by VISA restrictions and have mobility score of 159.

France recently decided to provide visas in less than 48 hours to Indians. Britain and Ireland have launched a single visa scheme for Indian tourists. Last year Canada allowed Indians who have traveled to Canada or the US in the past 10 years and with no adverse security or criminal history to get visa without submitting proof of economic solvency. The Philippines tourism ministry has proposed to lift entry visa requirements for Indians.  The US has also eased procedures to attract one Million Indian tourists by 2015. The country offers a 10-year multiple entry B1/ B2 visa that can be used for business and personal trips of short duration. Indians holding valid Visa also have the advantage of getting visa waivers or applying for e visas to visit some countries, including Mexico and Turkey.

Visa on arrival to Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Maldives, Laos, Cambodia, Jordan, Kenya, Philippines and Thailand has seen significant surge, inspiring transactions in India for both tourism – short stays, weekend gateways as well as ad-hoc group of celebrations.

Currently Indians get visa – free access or visas on arrival in 52 countries.

Mobility Score: Mobility indicates to what extent the citizens of a country are affected by visa policies of destination nations – the higher the score, the better. It is calculated by assigning weights to the visa policies required of each country’s citizens, with ‘no visa’ weighted by 1, ‘visa on arrival’ by 0.7, ‘e-visa’ by 0.5 and ‘visa required’ weighted by 0.

Source: The Economic Times



The well planned city of Lavasa in Maharashtra, is hosting its first ever music festival ‘The Lost Party’. The three day music festival has partnered with Saavn, making it the music streaming service’s first live IP partnership. The festival, which is to be held from 6 to 8 March has been organized by a group of avid music festival attendees and ‘non-corporate janta’, says one of the core team festival organizers Pratik Agarwal.


In his own words, “We are a bunch of non-corporate general janta, who regularly go to music festivals in India and abroad, and we thought why not have our own festival? A music festival is not just a festival; it is a multi-stage music experience. Music is an umbrella at a fest, and there are so many other activities a festival goer can participate in and enjoy. We want to create a Burning Man sort of an experience here in Asia.”


The Lost Party is the culmination of art expressed via various mediums. It is a call to the wanderer in you to come and explore the world of creativity. It is an invitation to your soul to get in touch with the frequencies that resonate throughout this universe. It is an experience that you will be raving about for months. Organized from 6-8 March, it serves as the perfect getaway for people to enjoy their Holi weekend at the festival.

The Lost Party Experience
To make The Lost Party outstanding in its own right, the organizing team has come up with interesting ideas. With ‘Drunches’, the festival-goer will have access to music, food and drinks even before the festival starts. While artistes are performing on the two stages, the other artistes will go around the venue with their instrument and just start playing and interacting with the audience, via ‘Busking’. There is another interesting concept that they have come up with, in the form of ‘Rent- A- Pool.’ They are giving festival-goers inflatable pools, so that they can have a pool party at the festival. The festival is for two nights and three days, and the last day is basically a chill-out day. This comes from the experience of going mad just recovering from a fest.

The Trilok Gurtu touch

Trilok Gurtu

The Lost Party boasts an impressive, interesting and varied artiste line-up. They have Australian swing house duo Yolanda Be Cool as headliners, Pig&Dan, Nucleya, Prem Joshua, Twilight Players, Martin Roth, Trilok Gurtu, Dualist Inquiry, Avial, Reggae Rajahs, Kohra, Neha Bhasin, Vasuda Sharma and more. Amongst them, quite exciting is The Turbans and Rico Loop Live. Even Trilok Gurtu, who seldom performs at music festivals is part of the fest and is a true-hearted gypsy. Everyone has a gypsy inside of them, and organizers want to bring it out through The Lost Party by having Trilok Gurtu show.
English folk-rock singer-songwriter Michael David Rosenberg, well known under his stage name Passenger is likely to be part of the fest. An online campaign asking people to tweet about why they want Passenger to come to India, tagging The Lost Party and Passenger and using the hashtag, #LetHerGo is on.

The Lost Party is also affiliated with networks like Google, Bookmyshow, Zomato and Saavn as a part of their social marketing. Moreover, organizers have also roped in Scoop Whoop, Miss Malini, Festival Sherpa and others. As a part of their digital outreach, they have started campaigning The Lost Party on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google Plus and Pinterest.


Source: http://www.radioandmusic.com

TRAMS in NCR, Reason to REJOICE!

I recently read an article in the latest issue of Realty & More – Return of the Tram. The article mentioned that trams are set to stage a comeback in the National Capital Region (NCR), and I believe that this move would not only provide pollution-free, value -added mode of transport but also have nostalgic value to the people who have seen them plying in Old Delhi and Kolkata, where they have symbolic presence, but will also add to the tourist potential of NCR besides providing a novelty in commuting.

tram greater noida

Though the feeder tramway network to the proposed Metro Rail along the expressway to Agra is still on the drawing board and may take upto two years to even start the work , the very idea of having trams in the region is a source of excitement to young and old alike. Irrespective of the long wait, the very idea of seeing trams running on the NCR roads has excited many. Tram transport was set up in India by the British in the 19th Century. Although discontinued in most cities between 1930 and 1960, at present, only Kolkata has the sole public tram system in the country. Delhi’s tram system started operating from March 6, 1908 till about 1963. At its zenith in 1921, there were 24 open cars on about 15 kms of track. While reviving an old-world nostalgia and proving to be a tourist attraction as well, the tramway proposal is part of Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) effort’s to enhance connectivity in the ever growing region.

The introduction of trams in NCR has certainly excited me no end (Proud Delhiite that I am) as I recollected my first brush with tram in Kolkata in 1990 (Calcutta then) when I saw a train like thing coming out from nowhere in the middle of the road. Excitedly I told my friend; “See train moving on the road,” How exciting! “I want to ride it,” I insisted. My friend who was from Calcutta told me, this is called tram and it is important mode of transport connecting entire city. “You too can certainly ride,” quipped my friend. My joy knew no bounds when I boarded the tram for the first time and probably last time of my life, till I read the above news and my hopes revived of riding the tram again.

Excitedly I thought of sharing what trams are all about and their history, and for that I have dug deep into the subject for my esteemed readers who too would be interested in knowing about them. Especially when we don’t have trams in any other part of the country (at least I don’t know of any, if you know, please share).

Tram was started about 2000 years ago, when Rome was under control of Augustus Ceaser in BC 27. The first tramcar of the world was built by Franciscas, a Roman citizen. It was a chariot for six persons to sit, made of wood and was pulled by one or two horses on rails made of bronze. Initially the tramcars plied in a route between Circus Maximus to Porto Apea of Rome. Within 20 years new routes were introduced in total 25 routes. This tram system survived for approximately 500 years and with the surrender of Roman Empire the Tram system also died.

Coming to Kolkata rather Calcutta trams, the idea of running tramcars in Kolkata was initiated in the year 1867, but the British rule permitted Government of Bengal in 1870 to run tramcars. Accordingly Government of Bengal sanctioned Rs.1 lakh to start tramcars from Sealdah station to Armenian Ghat of Hooghly River.

A horse tram system opened in January 1881, after a premature experiment in 1873, and a steam tramway line in 1882. Electric trams began running on March 27, 1902 and by 1921 there were 56 km of track and 512 cars in service.

In Kolkata tram cars were started on 18th February 1873. Firstly, it was a car pulled by two horses brought from Australia. Wooden tram lines costing about Rs. 150,000 were laid between Sealdah and Armenian Ghat by the side of Hooghly River. Interestingly though meant mainly for carrying merchandise, the first and subsequent runs were for carrying passengers. The first tram had three cars, one for First Class and two for Second class for passengers were coupled to form one unit. Each car was attached with two horses, thus 6 horses started the inaugural run of tramcars in India.

Kolkata Tramways Company Limited (CTC) was formed in 1880 with the cooperation of Kolkata Municipal Corporation and it was then in November again tramways were introduced in Kolkata with horse drawn coaches, from Sealdah to Dalhousie Square Central District. Gradually tramlines were laid to Chowringhee, Esplanade, Chitpur Road, Shyambazar, Strand Road and Wellesley. New steel lines were laid from Khidirpur to Esplanade (Dharamtolla). Old Kolkatans still remember the journey from Kidderpore to Esplanade, through the lush green Kidderpore Road and Race Course. Journey in a tram are bound to experience some aspects of greenery of Kolkata.

With the advent of technology, trams driven with electricity came into being. The tracks were improved to make the journeys smoother and safer. From then on, trams became a permanent feature of Kolkata. The cars were all imported from England. The repairs were done in the workshop setup for the purpose in Kolkata. The coaches had Driver’s cab and behind the cab wooden seats were provided for passengers. The Driver had a “Foot Gong” to warn pedestrians which is still there.

The management of Kolkata trams was taken over by Government of West Bengal on 19th. July 1967 and was nationalized on 3rd. November 1976. Soon a bad patch followed for tramways. Large number of motor vehicles crowded the streets of Kolkata, making it difficult for trams to ply.

It is indeed heartening to note that Trams will be a reality in NCR soon, let’s rejoice!

Source: Realty & More